Thursday, April 03, 2008

John Yoo -- cool tool for power mad rulers


John Yoo, Berkeley law school Boalt Hall's local war criminal, is back in the news with the exposure of his charming October 2001 torture memo. In addition, this opinion in a footnote was noted by AP.

''Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations,'' the footnote states, referring to a document titled ''Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States.''

In other words, go for it, soldiers -- beat the crap out anyone you suspect of being one of those terra-ists, even if they are in the U.S. There's a war on and we don't need no stinking warrants.

It doesn't take much knowledge of U.S. history to realize that such permission for unregulated military mayhem has been much contested for a long time. Those uppity colonials of 1776 revolted in part because of the random violence inflicted on them by British troops quartered in their towns and homes. After the Civil War experience of war and occupation within the national boundaries, Congress thought they'd enshrined protection against such military acting out by outlawing the Posse Comitatus.

So what, beyond an overweening desire to expand the dictatorial powers of a pathetic muddlehead of a president, underlies this wild grasp at unchecked military power on the homefront? John Yoo is apparently too stupid to shut up (there are such things as International War Crimes tribunals that may someday nail you, buddy) and has talked a lot about motive. I went back to an interview he gave PBS in 2005. The interviewer asked him what his state of mind was in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He offered:

But in terms of the emotions, I did have the feeling that we were entering uncharted territory, because before 9/11, terrorism had always been handled as a criminal justice problem, a law enforcement problem. And that's [bi-]partisan; administrations of both parties treated it that way. ...

And one thing on 9/11 I think I immediately realized was that this was going to be a war, and criminal justice and law enforcement ways of thinking about terrorism were not necessarily going to work anymore.

Q: What made you think it was a war? ...

I didn't mean to exclude the FBI or using the trials and prosecutors as a tool, but that wouldn't be the only tool, which it was before 9/11. And the reason for that was because of just the devastation of the attacks. Destroying the Pentagon and destroying the World Trade Centers are not things that criminals do -- that this was a kind of foreign attack for political purposes that we would associate with wartimes. Had this attack had been carried about before 9/11, during the Cold War, by the Soviet Union, in exactly the same way and hit exactly the same targets, would we have any doubt we were at war with the Soviet Union? So why should it matter that it was a terrorist group and not a nation-state that had attacked us on this way for us to decide whether we were at war?

This guy is a law professor? Quite simply, niceties like the rule of law go out the window simply because some crooks -- non-state actors, modern day pirates or privateers -- managed to make a big enough bang.

This is not the thinking of an adult. This is an intellectual whore, bending a small intelligence to the purposes of manipulative authority figures, craving approval for his devoted service. Sure, the whole country was spooked after 9/11. But this man's job was the law, not abasement to unconstrained power.

And the guy is still in the business of apologizing for his masters. This appeared today.

"While each case of abuse is regrettable," Mr. Yoo wrote, "it is not possible for a large organization charged with protecting the national security, under extraordinary pressure, to perform its mission error-free."

How pathetic. And we're equally pathetic if we fail to end the surveillance and torture regime for which Mr. Yoo is an apologist.

2 comments:

sfwillie said...

Additionally sickening is the Bushs' use of minorities to support torture and aggression... John Yoo, Alberto Gonzalez, Condi, Colin.

Not to mention Clarence Thomas.

Great post.

sfmike said...

And additionally sickening is that this war criminal has a job at UC Berkeley. What, exactly, were they thinking when they hired him?

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